The Phillipstown Community Centre Charitable Trust spoke yesterday at the Linwood-Central-Heathcote Community Board Meeting regarding the future of Lancaster Park.

The Phillipstown Community Centre Charitable Trust was established in 1999 essentially to connect local residents and other groups, provide a place where the community can meet and to empower the community.  In recent years the Trust has primarily been achieving this through the provision of the Phillipstown Community Hub, out of school care and community development activities. 

We are grateful that we have been able to be engaged to date in the development of the spatial plan and would very much like this to continue into the next stages.

We are encouraged by the provision of community space within the plan and wish to stress the importance of this to complement organised sport provision.

This vision is not new for Lancaster Park, as the development of the Eastern Stand prior to 2010 also featured the future provision of community space in those plans before February 2011 events halted that.

Victoria University’s Rebecca Kiddle through her research project “Where Do We Dance” supports the need for bumping spaces or “third places”.  Ray Oldenberg, a US based urban sociologist advances the theory that where these spaces are public spaces they are vital in contributing to a well-functioning, diverse-thinking and democratic society.  Kiddle also is of the view that community engagement in the design of these types of spaces creates more opportunities for community development.

We currently have a licence to occupy the former Phillipstown Primary School site, where at the Hub, connections are made daily with the local and wider community and the community in turn are empowered in a number of ways.  The Hub plays an important both locally and wider in encouraging collaboration and providing some of those bumping space opportunities.

Should the decree be made that collaborative community spaces is not desirable the former Phillipstown School – there will be a huge gap of space for community use in the area.  Lancaster Park is essential to ensure enough vital community space is maintained in the local area.

The growth of the Community Hub and organisations wanting to be a part of it both on a permanent and casual basis is indicative of the growing sense of community in the Phillipstown area.  As the local community becomes more involved, it becomes more empowered.  From there the need for community space will grow.  We predict that community space at both the Hub and Lancaster Park would complement each other – and this is something that we fully encourage. 

We note the acknowledgement in the plan of the lack of greenspace in the area as well as the proximity of other playgrounds, namely Cross Reserve and Charleston Reserve. However these are limited in size and do not cater to older children.  Cross Reserve is 3,783m2 and Charleston Reserve even smaller.  Therefore the area is in need for opportunities for informal sporting recreation activities.  These could be a basketball half court, volleyball area which youth and families can make use of or even more adventure based and/or nature play opportunities.

We support the retention of the original gates as well as the concept of a museum.  Phillipstown is one of the older suburbs in the city and the ability to celebrate the history of the area in a meaningful way is also important. 

Please keep involving both ourselves and the local community in the planning for the future of Lancaster Park.  This will be a win-win situation for all of us.  Involved communities lead to empowered communities that leads to a sense of community ownership.  

When there is greater community empowerment and ownership there is less anti-social behaviour and a greater sense of safety.  

Dr Billy O’Steen, Associate Professor in Community Engagement at the University of Canterbury spoke at the International Association of Public Participation Australasia Symposium as recently as July this year where he spoke of the need to ‘Do With’ communities rather than doing for or to.  Please “Keep Doing with us”, keep the needs of the local community in mind and keep involving us in the future development of Lancaster Park as we work to advocate for our community.